Biography of Basketball Player and Athlete George Mikan

About the biography of the famous basketball player and athlete George Mikan history and information.

George Mikan

Though bulky, slow, and nearsighted, George Mikan was the 1st big man (6'10", 250 lbs.) to exert a dominating influence on the game. He also engineered, with the Minneapolis Lakers, pro sports' 1st dynasty.

Born June 18, 1924, in Joliet, Ill., he had very little basketball background when he enrolled at De Paul University in 1942. But with the encouragement of coach Ray Meyer, Mikan developed quickly. He scored in double figures as a freshman, then was All-American his sophomore season (1944). Two more All-American years followed. He was national scoring champion both seasons and collegiate Player of the Year. De Paul won the NIT crown in 1945 with Mikan scoring 120 points, 53 in one game.

Mikan, along with Oklahoma State's 7' Bob Kurland, and 6'11" Don Otten of Bowling Green, forced the NCAA to ban goal-tending in 1945. "Big Number 99" and Kurland met in 5 heralded match-ups, with the former winning 3.

In 1947, Mikan signed with the National League Chicago American Gears. His contract--$60,000 for 5 years--was the best of the era, but paltry by today's standards.

When he switched to the Basketball Association of America (BAA), later to become the NBA, the Lakers were off for the races. John Kundla's team captured world championships in 1949-1950, 1952-1954. Mikan and forwards Jim Pollard (the "Kangaroo Kid") and rugged Vern Mikkelsen formed an unbeatable front line.

In 520 pro games, Mikan averaged 22.6 points. He led the league in scoring 3 times, and played in the NBA's 1st 4 All-Star games. He was All-Pro 6 times before retiring at the end of the 1956 season.

He had to wear thick glasses to correct his vision, and was forced to overcome numerous injuries. He broke his leg, nose, arch, both feet, 4 fingers, and received cuts and scratches that accounted for 166 stitches. Because of his omnipresence in the middle, the NBA widened the foul lane from 6' to 12'; but Mikan went right on overpowering people.

He was commissioner of the ABA from 1968-1969, and in that service introduced the red-white-blue ball. He is now a lawyer and travel agency owner in Minneapolis.

Mikan has received almost every conceivable basketball honor. He is a member of the Citizens Savings Hall of Fame and Naismith Hall of Fame. He was named AP Player of the First Half Century (Hank Luisetti was 2nd), and the NBA chose him for its Silver Anniversary Team.

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